Having a Healthy Horse

July 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

There are some keys to having a healthy horse and it is similar to us being healthy and one of my favorite motos – garbage in, garbage out. Or in a more positive light that moto is if you expect the best, then you have to treat it the best. Keys to a healthy horse would be good diet, plenty of fresh water, proper exercise and rest. It is  a simple formula and it can not be made any easier.

An article from the Cowgirl Way Magazine explains it in a little more detail –

Top 10 Rules For a Healthy Horse ~ The Cowgirl Way Magazine™

http://www.thecowgirlwaymagazine.com Thu, 20 Jun 2013

1. Start with a healthy horse
2. Food type and quality
3. Natural environment (pasture & herd)
4. Healthy stall
5. Safe pasture
6. Preventative routine medical
7. Watch and regularly inspect the horse
8. Shelter
9. Consider breed and individual requirements
10. Continue to learn

To read details go to —>http://www.thecowgirlwaymagazine.com

Overall the article is great – I do have some issue with the details of the 6th rule in regards to deworming regularly, especially with the increase in numbers of resistant strongyles across the country. The more appropriate method for deworming is to test first and deworm only when necessary. This may be what he meant considering that Dr Stewart did write – “Worming requirements depend partly on where you live (parasite types and severity vary by region).” however it needs to be more specific considering most horse owners still think that deworming regularly means every 30-60 days, which is increasing the numbers of resistant strongyles. With that one clarification, the article is right on with the details to having a healthy horse.

My Neutral Stance on Horse Racing

March 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

I had a small thing to think about this weekend (my neutral stance on horse racing) that has inspired me to… well 1. to write this post and 2. to bring back to life this website/blog.

Dom, a sales rep from an internet marketing company, emailed me and offered to write a guest post for this blog in exchange for a link to his client’s website and $120. Amazing to me, since my site has been dead for the past year and a half! You want to pay me $120 to have a post on here? I have to say that Dom was very polite and only mildly pushy and it seemed like a legitimate good deal. So why didn’t I accept the deal?  The site he was going to be linking to was a support site for the horse racing industry and more specifically it was a site that gave good information on how to bet on horse racing.

So now my ethical side didn’t blink at all with the gambling aspect – if someone wants to have fun spending their money on gambling it is not of my concern. However the support of horse racing did give me pause. I was just unsure if I wanted that type of stigma belonging to my website. I’m sure in the past I wouldn’t have thought much about it. If I look back at the posts on this site I may even have a post pointing to horse racing websites – I don’t remember. However now I do care. I have decided to remain neutral on aspects of horse racing.

What do I mean about being neutral? In a previous post I explained my position on horse racing –

There are many reasons for horses not to be racing at 2 years of age. The main one is that the skeletal structure of the horse is still growing and is incapable, in the majority of cases, to handle the stresses that racing places on the it. As for why horses race at 2 years of age, I have yet to hear a good reason that they have to race at that age. Obviously the industry has big money and investments are made. Having a horse wait another year or two before it possibly starts making a return increases the risk of the investment and slows the business of racing dramatically. Also traditionally horses have been raced at this age for many many years. So are these good enough reasons to continue racing at 2 years of age? Personally I do not think so.

As for is horse racing inhumane? I do not believe so and heres my reason..horse love to run, it comes naturally to them. If you have ever ridden a horse, especially one such as a thouroughbred, they love to go and they love to go fast. Interestingly, many of them actually love to race, they are not forced into it, they really want to do it. Ask any jockey or horseman that has been around the racing industry for even a short amount of time, they know when a horse just is not into it. They know if the horse really does not like it, that horse is not going to win and will be removed from racing very quickly. Now this does not mean that all of racing is humane. I believe some things need to be changed such as the age at which they are allowed to race needs to be raised. More turnout should be allowed, more rest and recovery needs to occur, and less pharmaceutical enhancements.

Because of my opinions I choose not to support the horse racing industry, however I am not going to bash them either. Many advancements in medicine have come from horse racing, many of the ideas we have for treating injuries, taking care of illnesses, and new uses for pharmaceuticals have come from the horse racing industry. As with all aspects of life there is good and bad, thus to remain neutral makes sense.

The good of horse racing is watching those magnificent animals charging down the track, true beauty in motion, such powerful animals! The upper echelon horses are well cared for and provided the best in medical care and the best care in general given the constraints of the industry. They are treated like kings, even most of the other horses are cared for in a proper manner because a horse that is not well cared for is not going to run very well and certainly is not going to make any money. What I really do not like with the horse racing industry is what I call the “backside of the track”. I have been there and seen it. I have seen the desperation in the owners and trainers that are not doing so well and the treatment of the horses to try to get them to compete at a high level, the attempts at glory of trying to be at the top and it’s not pretty.

The early training of horses that are not yet even fully grown is the worst offense and the fact that it takes 100+ horses to make 1 winner and at the upper echelons 1000+ horses to make a winner, some farms breed for years and never have a top echelon winner. The majority of horses do not make it to the top, do not make it to glory, do not make it to be a magnificent animal in the big three races. There are a lot of horses used up, broken, and beat down in attempts to make it to the top and for that reason I do not wish to support horse racing.

To be honest there is bad in almost every aspect of the horse world and in every discipline. The “backside of the track” in the other disciplines – Dressage and rollkur, Arabian show horses and gingering, Tennessee Walkers and soring, Jumpers and poling, Saddlebreds and their shoes and tail sets, Quarter horses and their shoeing and tying their heads up, etc, etc. Horses in all disciplines also are broken down by bad training, excessive competition, improper medical treatment, and owned by desperate owners trying to win blue ribbons. It is almost no different than that of the horse racing industry with the exception that it is usually for self indulgence and self glory, rather than a business and money. I do not wish to support these bad aspects either.

I wish to remain neutral. I work in the horse industry and there are good people, there are people doing the right things and caring for their horses in the best way they know how to care for them. I wish to provide information about ways to improve the health, welfare and movement of horses no matter what their discipline. If a website is devoted to health care or welfare of horses I will be glad to promote the website. If a website has an article about health care (even a racing website) I would be inclined to promote the article, but on my own terms and pointing specifically to the page/post I choose. I feel better about myself and my conscious will be clear.

What do you think? Did I make the right decision or am I just sitting up here on my soapbox blowing smoke looking like a fool?

Equine Parasite Management

October 16, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

If you have been paying attention the last year or so you have been hearing and reading that here in the US we have developed some resistant parasites in our horse population. How did we develop these resistant parasites? Well to be honest our deworming protocols. In our zeal to have a clean worm free horse population we have instead developed worms that are resistant to treatment. :-(

SO what to do? There are reports everywhere saying we should deworm regularly only with ivermectin, and others saying we should only deworm after testing to be sure our horse has parasites, and others still saying use a rotational deworming program but base it on the time of year rather than just every 30 or 60 days. However very little information is out there on how to actually prevent your horse from being infected in the first place. Well it is a matter of equine parasite management.

In equine parasite management one needs to first consider the actual risk of your horse being infected by parasites. The risk for a horse stabled and fed inside a barn and turned out by itself in its own personal dry lot is going to be much less than another horse that is kept in a small pasture with 5 other horses. With a horse in the environment as the latter, it is going to be near impossible to prevent infection from parasites, so one has to be dedicated to management of the pasture to prevent an overabundance.

The rules of equine parasite management –

  1. Clean up the manure in the pasture/turnout – a minimum of once a week this reduces the amount of eggs being delivered to the pasture and also the larva.
  2. If you feed hay and/or grain, feed inside the barn or at a minimum in a bunk off the ground and in an area separate from the pasture. If you do feed in a bunk outside place the bunk on a concrete pad or limestone. Clean feed buckets and bunks regularly.
  3. If possible divide your pastures and rotate the usage allowing a rest period to help kill off parasites.
  4. Test each horse’s manure regularly (once every 2-3 months) for parasites. One horse can be a high shedder and be the main infector and another have a very low parasite count. Knowing the high shedders will help you manage those individual horses and keep them separate from the rest of the herd if possible. Also you can treat the horses that shed and treat each horse as an individual which actually helps the entire herd.
  5. Deworm any new horse prior to introducing them to your herd.
If you use these five steps you can lower the risk of your horse being infected with parasites, then you do not have to worry about what you have to do with the deworming schedule or if you have to rotate or what product you have to use, because you will have a lower risk of parasite infection.

Other Sources for deworming and horse parasite control

Two Horses, Adjoining Pastures–Two Wildly Different Deworming

The worm load for the mare? Very small–only 34 (which is the number of eggs per gram), which makes her a “low shedder” of worm eggs. According to thi.


A Chilling Thought About Horse Deworming Schedules | MyHorse

Like you, I’ve read many conflicting horse deworming schedule reports. And it seems that for every horse deworming program based on a rotational drug.


Every Horse Boarder’s Nightmare: A Young Horse’s Death from Severe Worm Damage and the Ten Commandments of Parasite Control

From the very day that newly-initiated horse owners pick up their crisp new how-to horsecare book or go to that first horse health lecture, the first commandment of horse health management echoes in their ears: Thou shalt worm thy horse religiously.


A cute video explaining the new concepts for deworming –


Eggzamin Superworm – Drug Resistant Parasite in Horses. Time to rethink our deworming strategies.

EHV-1 Hysteria

May 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Calm down horse people, all this EHV-1 hysteria is getting to me. As of today there are less than 40 horses that have contracted Equine Herpes Virus 1 from being exposed at a national cutting show in Odgen, Utah. Despite what certain news outlets are reporting it has not spread yet. Think about it there are over 7 million horses in the US, less than 40 have contracted the disease and less than 5 have died – 0.00057% of the population is definitely NOT an epidemic.

Yesterday I was a little disappointed in one of The Horse’s articles relating to the outbreak – EHV-1 Outbreak: Number of Confirmed Cases Rising. The title of this article and definitely the first line in the article really irritated me. Here is a respected health journal and they are playing to the hysteria that is building. Worse yet with the line, “It’s been nearly a week since the first indications of a neurologic equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) outbreak began to surface, and the outbreak shows no signs of slowing down.” they certainly are continuing and even promoting that hysteria. I tweeted my disapproval with two tweets –

Oops Twitter conversation about horse health not loading.

Stephanie Church the Editor-in-Chief responded back to the tweets with a tweet of her own –

Oops Twitter conversation about horse health not loading

I agree with their mission and the responsibility they have placed on themselves which is why The Horse is an excellent source for articles on health for your horse (I have blog envy for sure). I said so and reiterated my displeasure with that specific title and first line of the article. Stephanie understood and followed up with this tweet –

oops Twitter conversation about horse health not loading

I am glad that Stephanie commented and listened to me explaining my displeasure and in the end seemed to be more conscious of what I was trying to say. I’d like to expand and clarify my position, first by saying that The Horse is by no means the problem here. They are still one of my most trusted sources for information about the outbreak. I also want to say that I am concerned about this outbreak but not to the point that I have seen some people and owners out here on the internet. On top of the hysteria, the misinformation is horrific. I can not believe with as much good information being repeated in many different reputable areas that there still is misinformation being given, even by veterinarians! And not only misinformation but information that may be detrimental to your horse’s health rather than helpful.

The Facts about this EHV-1 Outbreak

  • EHV-1 has been around a very long time and it is unknown at this time whether this outbreak is caused by a new strain.
  • EHV-1 causes respiratory disease, abortions, foal deaths and/or neurologic disease. If a horse obtains the neurologic form it is not a death sentence.
  • This outbreak has been limited to the horses that were exposed at the cutting show in Odgen, Utah and their stablemates. It has not spread to other horses.
  • Containment/Quarantine is the best defense against spread and it appears that at this time it has been contained by quarantining the horses that have been exposed.
  • Vaccination is ineffective against the neurologic form and controversial.

Reliable Sources for EHV-1 Information

A Few Words on Vaccination for EHV-1

First and foremost – the vaccine will NOT protect your horse against the neurological form of EHV-1. There were neurologic cases of EHV-1 in horses that were vaccinated every 3 to 4 months with an approved vaccine in the last outbreak. At this time there is not a labeled or  approved product to protect your horse against the neurologic form. There is good reason for this – because there is not one that will protect against it!

There is promise though and break-throughs in research. The modified live vaccine shows some promise and did protect in one study of 5 horses, but still seemed ineffective in the outbreak a couple years ago. New advances in vaccine technology with recombinant DNA vaccines and Chimera type vaccines are also showing some promise but still are not available or ready to prove they are effective.

One of the biggest problems with the current vaccines, besides not being effective against the neurologic form, is the duration of so called protection. The vaccines currently available only protect for 3 months or so. (In some horses as little as a few weeks) So this means that if you really wanted to properly vaccinate you would need to vaccinate every 2-3 month, but it still will not prevent the disease and may only limit symptoms. It does prevent virus shedding which could possibly be of some benefit to limiting the exposure to other horses.

This is where my opinion comes in based on experience with the immune system and evidence from other species (cats and dogs). It is not advisable to be stimulating the immune system with a vaccine multiple times a year especially once every 60 days, unintended consequences may occur. In dogs and cats it has been proven that annual vaccination can and does cause immune system disorders such as allergies, auto-immune disorders and even cancer. Why would the horse be so different? And we are not talking about annual vaccination; here we are talking about giving a horse a vaccine every 2-3 months that’s 4 to 6 times a year. Talk about over vaccinating! It has not been proven in horses to have detrimental effects but it really has not been researched either. So in my opinion why would you risk your horses immune system to try and protect against a disease that it can not protect against? It is possible that the reason we see an increase in the neurologic form of the disease in vaccinated animals is because of over-vaccination. No research just an opinion based on other species experience with over vaccination.

In the end just remain calm horse owners. Be educated and informed. Pay attention to where the disease has occurred and realize that taking your horse to a show is a risk, but why do you have the horse in the first place?

Rabies in a horse

April 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Horse Chiropractic Explained

March 22, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

I received a question about horse chiropractic. Leah did not understand what her horse chiropractor was saying to her, so I attempted to help her understand a little about chiropractic –

If the femur was truly out either in the hip joint or the joint of the tibia and the femur in the hind leg, then wouldn’t the horse be unable to use the leg?  Is it possible for these joints to be out of place?  And if so is it possible to realign them with a chiropractic adjustment?
Thank you very much for the information.

My explanation –


Now you are talking the difference between a medical luxation and a chiropractic subluxation. When a chiropractor or someone talking about chiropractic says that a joint is “out” they do not mean that the joint is totally displaced. If it were totally displaced or luxated, yes the horse would be unable to walk initially and it would be very very painful. You would know and would be calling your vet right away if you saw this problem. It would be like if the leg was broken.

However when a chiropractor using the lay term the joint is “out” it is a very simplistic and often misinterpreted way to describe a subluxation. A subluxation in chiropractic terms is a joint that is not moving effectively or efficiently. When a joint does not move correctly then it affects the tissue surrounding the joint as well, reducing blood flow and nerve conduction around the joint. This is what causes the symptoms or possible long term chronic sometimes subclinical  (meaning you can not tell there is a specific problem at the moment)  issues. A chiropractic adjustment is an attempt to reset the joint, to correct the movement and thus correct the nerve conduction and blood flow around the joint. I am also giving you a simplistic description – one that is easier to understand but more descriptive than the joint is out. There are books devoted to trying to explain what occurs with a chiropractic adjustment.

The resetting of the movement of a joint does involve chiropractic adjustments and sometimes even muscle massage to help the joint return to normal function. It may take several adjustments to have the joint return to normal function. Also there are times due to stresses on the joint such as biomechanical changes from conformation or activity of the horse (jumping, dressage, barrel racing, etc) or even vices such as weaving, cribbing, circling that can affect the success of an adjustment. Other problems such as bad teeth alignment, bad hoof balance, poor saddle fit or even an unbalanced rider that can have an affect on the animal and the success of a chiropractic adjustment. Lastly physical problems or pathologic problems such as strained ligaments, torn muscles, arthritis, or even synovitis which is inflammation in the joint can affect the success of an adjustment. In my practice I use chiropractic as a tool to help discover these underlying issues. I do the adjustments but also look at the animal as a whole and help the owner/rider/trainer understand why the horse is not moving correctly and we fix the problems we can and those we can not we help by continuing to do chiropractic adjustments to correct the biomechanics as best as we can to help the horse move the best we can help it move.

I hope this answers your questions.

I hope it helps others understand what I do as an animal chiropractor. Here is a video of me doing an adjustment on a horse.

Vaccines for your horse are the last line of defense

February 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Excellent article with a great point that many horse owners believe their disease prevention program begins and ends with vaccinating. In my opinion many owners are over vaccinating and causing more problems than what they are trying to protect against.

Amplify’d from www.equidblog.com

In general, the horse industry is over-reliant on vaccines. Don’t get me wrong, vaccines are useful and are an important aspect of an infectious disease control program. However, they are just one tool and they should not be the first line of defense. Rather, I think we need to change our mindset and consider vaccines as a last line of defense.

When I think about disease control, I think about three main areas:

1) Decreasing exposure
2) Decreasing susceptibility
3) Increasing resistance

Read more at www.equidblog.com


5 More Poisonous Plants For Horses

December 8, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Amplify’d from veterinaryteam.dvm360.com
Add these five plants to your veterinary watch list for flora that could be deadly to horses.
Japanese yew

Yew (Taxus spp.)

Read more at veterinaryteam.dvm360.com


Advances in Equine Dentistry – really?

October 13, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Some equine dentists would have you believe that they are really advanced in equine dentistry. There are equine dentists doing full mouth balancing, filling cavities, and even root canals. It seems legitimate, the dentist really seems to know what he is talking about, seems to be selling it quite effectively and is confident that the procedure will make your horse perform much better because of the treatment provided. My question though would be how do they know? Has research been performed to prove that these techniques actually do what the equine dentist says it is going to do? Are there other techniques that work as well if not better?

The biggest problem with equine dentistry is that although it is a very old profession and veterinarians and lay people have been working on horses teeth for as long as horses have been used by people there has been little in the way of research. None of the so called advances in equine dentistry have been proven to be any more or any less effective than any other dental procedures.

equine dentistry

The one basic fact of equine dentistry that has been passed down and is now in the category of obvious medical knowledge is that removing sharp enamel points from the edges of a horses teeth allow the horse to be more comfortable and allows the horse to masticate more appropriately.  That’s it! Nothing else has really been studied. The whole balancing of the mouth to improve comfort of the TMJ, filling cavities, and root canals has not been researched in horses – we have no idea if it really does work or not.

The problem with no research is that some dentists take it to the extreme in trying to make the theories be true. I have seen a dentist “correct” the teeth so they  were “perfectly aligned and balanced” and yet the horse could not eat afterward. The horse could not chew. I have had to wait almost 2 years on one horse before I could do any filing because so much was taken off initially that the teeth although “perfectly balanced” were not touching.

At this point in time I am going to agree with Geoff Tucker, DVM in his post  – Just Because It Can Be Done, Should We Do It?

Remember this in today’s world.  Charlatans abound and with positive emotional stories like this person’s endorsement of root canals, we all remain subject to their damage and lies.  Please remain vigilant but not closed minded.  Someday a very wealthy person will fund accurate and sound scientific studies of equine dentistry but until then, most if not all studies done on this subject is unsubstantiated and wrong and not in the best interest of YOU or YOUR HORSE.

Removal of oral pain IS in your horses’ best interest and the best way to do this is routine floating from a young age.  Call your equine dentist now and not when his teeth are failing.  Like changing the oil in your car or flossing your own teeth, an ounce of prevention is so much better than a pound of cure.

Until there is more and better research less is more in my opinion. We need to be doing what we know for sure is best for the horse and that is to remove sharp enamel points and balance the mouth to allow for better mastication such as removing ramps and hooks. If we do more we do not know if we are helping or actually hurting the horse or not doing anything at all.

So remember if you have one of these equine dentists coming to you telling you your horse needs something extreme just ask him has any research been done? Then run don’t walk, run away and bring your horse with you.

Buying Horse Drugs Online

September 27, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Pharmacy Rx symbol
Image via Wikipedia

One of my clients today was excited to find Bute powder online at the cheapest price she had seen. I did write her the prescription but with a warning of buying horse drugs online can be dangerous.

The internet truly is the wild west out there – it is the land of buyer beware. Companies have sold expired drugs, re-labeled drugs,  counterfeit drugs, and drugs that have not been stored properly. All of these situations can be dangerous for your horse. One of the big concerns is that of improperly stored drugs that have lost their effectiveness.

There is no way for you as a consumer to know if the drug that you are buying from a pharmacy online has stored the drug like it should have been stored. It might look the same, has the appropriate label and even has a good expiration date, but has lost its effectiveness because it was stored in a warehouse that was not climate controlled and was exposed to excessive heat or cold.

The FDA has been trying to figure out a way to solve the growing problem of online scammers selling drugs in the human pharmaceutical industry and now finding similar problems in the pet drug industry – Purchasing Pet Drugs Online: Buyer Beware

Now of course there are some companies selling online that  are reputable and follow the correct procedures in operating a pharmacy. They maintain patient confidentiality, quality control of their products, and require prescriptions when appropriate.

So how do you find a reputable online company selling horse drugs that are safe?

The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has a program called Vet-VIPPS an acronym for Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites. It is a new program and the FDA recommends if you purchase from an online pharmacy that it be Vet-VIPPS accredited. It is a voluntary program but the requirements are stringent. At this time because of the requirements and how new the program is there are only 6 companies on the list – Find a Vet-VIPPS online pharmacy

It can be safe and very cost effective to buy your horse drugs online, but you need to take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your horse. The cheapest is not  always the best. Be wary and smart about purchasing online. I would suggest purchasing from a Vet-VIPPS and if your favorite online pharmacy is not on the list I would give them a call and find out why they are not on the list. There should be no reason why they should not be if they are reputable and can make the criteria. There are only 19 criteria and they are all important, if the pharmacy can not meet the criteria you should not do business with them.

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